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Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Human Element: Faculty Collaboration in an Increasingly Digital World | EDUCAUSE Review

Photo: Trenda Boyum-Breen
Trenda Boyum-Breen, President of Rasmussen College insist, "Like most technologies, Web 2.0 learning tools can connect or divide us. The path we choose depends on how we understand and use the tools. Since ancient times, technological advances have stoked fears (among some) that our humanism will erode when new technologies grab hold of how we interact." 

No less a scholar than Socrates warned us that writing words down on parchment would kill our memories. Conversely, technological advances have also been seen as life-giving and nourishing, particularly by early indigenous populations who innovated to advance agriculture and irrigation. This fundamental separation — whether technology is bringing us together or pulling us apart — is alive in the 21st century, including within U.S. higher education. Students and faculty are the most impacted.

Here are the challenges that face our faculty today:
  • Students who have access to smartphones and high-speed Internet may be distracted by a bombardment of quick and often shallow information.
  • Students who do not have access could fall behind through no fault of their ability to learn.
  • Faculty expectations and practices are changing at many institutions because Web 2.0 learning technologies are continuously evolving.
With too little technology, we risk losing our edge. With too much technology, faculty can feel like Sisyphus with a boulder in one hand and a tablet in the other. But the technology in which colleges and universities invest, usually with an eye on the student experience, need not be limited to improving classroom learning. This gets at the crux of what is next for many faculty as well. Adult learners are adapting to an increasingly digital world. Generation Z and Millennial students were born into it. Digital content, open-source materials, and online and blended learning are opening doors to exciting and sometimes daunting spaces in higher education. But they also leave many wondering about the role of the human element and our needs for authentic interaction, a sense of belonging, and being cared for on a personal level. 

Source: EDUCAUSE Review